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What is the relationship between the Dionysian-Apollonian distinction and Socratic Rationalism in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy? Free essay! Download now

Home > University > Philosophy > What is the relationship between the Dionysian-Apollonian distinction and Socratic Rationalism in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy?

What is the relationship between the Dionysian-Apollonian distinction and Socratic Rationalism in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 4600 | Submitted: 11-Jul-2005
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This essay explores the relationship between Nietzsche’s Dionysian-Apollonian distinction and the role of Socratic Rationalism in Greek tragedy. It is argued that the two reciprocal forces of the Dionysian and the Apollonian are mutually necessary and their roles are equally fundamental to the spirit of tragedy. It is further argued that there exist two parties responsible for tragedy’s decline – one external – Socrates himself and one internal – Euripides, the mouthpiece of Socratic Rationalism.

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The Birth of Tragedy is an account of the reciprocity of these two forces which are, at the same time, mutually necessary – a deprivation of one force leads to a reduction in the other. “And since you Euripides, abandoned Dionysus, Apollo abandoned you as well.” (The Birth of Tragedy, section 10). In a similar way, the two forces mutually add to each other - an increase in one force leads to an increase in the other. This is the reasoning for Nietzsche’s comment in section 25 of The Birth of Tragedy.

“Where Dionysian forces make themselves felt as tempestuously as in our experience, there also Apollo, wrapped in a cloud must already have descended among us; surely the next few generations will behold his most opulently beautiful effects.”

The two forces represent a conflict of two eternally opposing principles. “Dionysus ever escaping from the forms that Apollo is ever creating for him. And it is just this unceasing conflict that is the essence of life itself; life is conflict. Dionysus without Apollo would be unmanifest pure energy. Apollo without Dionysus would be dead, inert. Each is necessary to the other, but in active opposition; for, as stage by stage the play proceeds, Apollo must build continually more beautiful, more enduring forms, which Dionysus, in turn, must continually surmount and transcend.” (Orage, 1906: p35)
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